2013-08-30 / Community Events

Army NCOs selected to train in corporate America

By Bonnie Heater
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office


Staff Sgt. Michael Pichette, one of three noncommissioned officers assigned to Fort Gordon, has been accepted for the 2013 training with industry program at Cisco Systems Inc. in North Carolina. 
Photo by Staff Christopher Adell / Fort Gordon Regimental NCO Academy Staff Sgt. Michael Pichette, one of three noncommissioned officers assigned to Fort Gordon, has been accepted for the 2013 training with industry program at Cisco Systems Inc. in North Carolina. Photo by Staff Christopher Adell / Fort Gordon Regimental NCO Academy A Fort Gordon Signaleer recently earned a much sought after “Training with Industry” slot with Cisco Systems Inc. Staff Sgt. Michael Pichette, an internet protocol networking instructor and writer with the Fort Gordon Cisco Networking Academy at the 442nd Signal Battalion, received a rare chance to slip into business casual attire for a year and work for a high-tech American company while still remaining in the Army.

“This opportunity means the world to me,” Pichette said. “My TWI assignment will allow me to expand my knowledge through practical experience with one of the top companies in the world. It’s an absolutely amazing opportunity, and my wife Caitlyn and I are really looking forward to the experience.”


Chief Warrant Officer Dave Engelhardt, (second from right, first row) listens to instructions during a class rehearsal Aug. 19 inside Alexander Hall, Fort Gordon. The distinguished honor graduate of 255N Class 003-13 of the warrant officer advance course at the Fort Gordon Cisco networking academy of the 442nd Signal Battalion is the warrant officer selectee for the 2013 training with industry program with Cisco Systems Inc. 
Photo by Bonnie Heater / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Chief Warrant Officer Dave Engelhardt, (second from right, first row) listens to instructions during a class rehearsal Aug. 19 inside Alexander Hall, Fort Gordon. The distinguished honor graduate of 255N Class 003-13 of the warrant officer advance course at the Fort Gordon Cisco networking academy of the 442nd Signal Battalion is the warrant officer selectee for the 2013 training with industry program with Cisco Systems Inc. Photo by Bonnie Heater / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Only four slots are made available annually at Cisco TWI – two captain/major slots, one chief warrant officer 2 or 3 slot and one for a staff sergeant or sergeant first class who is a trained Army information systems operator-analyst.

To be considered for this program the applicants had to have completed the Army Advanced Leaders course, possess Comp TIA Security + and CCNA certifications. Pichette holds 20 technical certifications which include: the Global Information Assurance Certified Incident Handler certification, the Cisco Certified Network Professional and Certified Information Systems Security Professional certifications. “I feel what put me over the top for selection to this year’s TWI program was the CCNP certification,” he said. “I completed it one day prior to submitting my application package.”


Sgt. 1st Class Jasmin Harvey, an Army noncommissioned officer selected for the training with industry program, will return to Fort Gordon in September after working as a customer support engineer on the classified network support team at Cisco Systems Inc. Research Training Park in North Carolina. 
Photo by Steve Lyons / Cisco Systems Inc. Sgt. 1st Class Jasmin Harvey, an Army noncommissioned officer selected for the training with industry program, will return to Fort Gordon in September after working as a customer support engineer on the classified network support team at Cisco Systems Inc. Research Training Park in North Carolina. Photo by Steve Lyons / Cisco Systems Inc. While Pichette is working at the Cisco Systems Inc. Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, he plans to raise his technical knowledge and experience. “I will be using every resource available to me, especially the knowledgeable network engineers and the on-site Certified Internet Work Expert practice labs,” he said.

Pichette, who aspires to be a warrant officer, will be assigned to the “Classified Network Support” team while working in corporate America. The 10-year Army veteran will be spending a lot of his evenings and weekends working to complete the lab portion of the CCIE certification. He completed the written portion of the exam before departing Fort Gordon.

As an assistant instructor with the 255N [Network Management Technician] Warrant Officer Advanced course of the U.S. Army Cisco Networking Academy at Fort Gordon Pichette relished making a difference. “I enjoyed watching my students in the Cisco Academy go from ‘zero to hero,’” he explained. “The vast majority of our students have zero Cisco experience, and it’s our job to make them truly understand the core Cisco networking concepts and configurations.

And, when they pass each test with flying colors, we as instructors know that we’ve done our jobs well.” Pichette taught the class with Alicia Cliff, the course primary instructor and recipient of the Top Cisco Instructor in North America award for 2012.

Pichette will not be the only Soldier heading to Cisco Systems Inc. from Fort Gordon. One of his students in the 255 N Class 003-13 of the Warrant Officer Advanced Course, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Dave Engelhardt, who graduated Aug. 20, will be joining him. The distinguished honor graduate is assigned to the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colo., and is the warrant officer selectee for the 2013 TWI program. He will be working in a variety of sections at Cisco to include learning and education and routering and switching.

“I plan to work on a Cisco Certified Internet Expert certificate while there,” Engelhardt said.

While TWI has always been open to commissioned officers and warrant officers, it’s the second year a noncommissioned may compete and be selected.

Sgt. 1st Class Jasmin Harvey was the first noncommissioned officer to earn a TWI with Cisco in 2012. The Anaheim, Calif. native worked as a customer support engineer on the “Classified Network Support” team at the Cisco Research Triangle Park in North Carolina. There she accepted cases from classified government network agencies, and saw them through resolution with a number of troubleshooting tools made available through Cisco.

“It was quite an honor to be the first enlisted Signal Soldier in the TWI program,” Harvey said. “The experience could not have been duplicated in any other Army position I could have been assigned to. It has allowed me to focus on information technology skills and train in a real corporate environment. The experience will also assist me as I teach Cisco certified material.”

The mother of three actually trades places with Pichette. “I am replacing Staff Sergeant Pichette as an IPNET writer/instructor with the 442nd Signal Battalion as he replaces me at Cisco,” Harvey said. While at Fort Gordon where she will be teaching the 255N Warrant Officer Advanced course, Harvey plans to also study and obtain a Cisco Certified Network Professional routing and switching certification in her spare time.

As Harvey’s training experience with Cisco Systems Inc. comes to end she has something important to pass on to other Signaleers.

“ Never sell yourself short, or let anyone tell you that you can’t reach your goals within the Signal (Corps) field,” she said. “All it takes is ambition, and a drive to learn more every day. Use your resources, make goals for yourself, and never give up!”

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